Marina Prior stars in Hello, Dolly! for TPC, with Jesus Christ Superstar and Brigadoon also programmed for 2017.

Dolly Levi, the inimitable, widowed matchmaker from Yonkers in Jerry Herman’s 1964 musical comedy Hello, Dolly!, is a role that Marina Prior has long had on her eye on. And now the time has come. Prior will play the brassy, larger-than-life Dolly for The Production Company (TPC) in a new staging directed by Gary Young, which opens the 2017 season on May 27.

Marina Prior will play Dolly Levi for The Production Company. Photograph: supplied

One of Australia’s most popular leading ladies, Prior will star opposite her real-life husband Grant Piro as Horace Vandergelder, the penny-pinching “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” who enlists Dolly to find him a young bride. Dolly, however, has other ideas. Prior and Piro performed together for TPC in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in 2009.

“I’m so excited to be back at The Production Company taking on the classic comic role of Dolly Levi. It’s been a dream of mine to do this iconic show, and right now I feel ready for the challenge,” said Prior.

“I’m also delighted to be reunited with Gary Young – we were both original cast members of Les Misérables – I have great admiration for him and his work, and it’s wonderful to be working with him again after all this time. And to play opposite such an accomplished and brilliant comic actor as Grant Piro – in the role of Horace Vandergelder –  is of course, the icing on the cake. And it helps being in love with him too… I cannot wait!”

Hello, Dolly! is an ever-green crowd-pleaser. It opened on Broadway in 1964 and won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical – a record it held for 37 years. The role of Dolly was originally written for Ethel Merman but she turned it down as did Mary Martin, so Carol Channing stepped into what would become her signature role. She was therefore hugely disappointed when the part in the 1969 film went to the much younger Barbra Streisand.

Announced today by TPC Chairman Jeanne Pratt, the 2017 season continues with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1971 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (July 29 – August 6). Gale Edwards directs, with Rob Mills as Jesus, Alinta Chidzey as Mary Magdalene and Zoy Frangos as Judas. Edwards is no stranger to the musical having directed a 1996 London revival, which then went on a successful UK tour. The production received mixed reviews when it opened on Broadway in 2000, but it won Edwards an Emmy Award for the televised recording.

Rohan Browne and Genevieve Kingsford co-star in Brigadoon. Photograph courtesy of The Production Company

Completing the TPC season is Lerner and Loewe’s classic Broadway romance Brigadoon (October 28 – November 5), which opened on the Great White Way in 1947 and which has not been staged professionally in Australia in many years. Brigadoon tells the story of two young American tourists lost in the Scottish Highlands who discover a mysterious village that only appears for one day every 100 years. It stars Rohan Browne as Tommy and Genevieve Kingsford as Fiona – roles made famous by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in the 1954 film.

Director Jason Langley and Musical Director Michael Tyack, who collaborated on TPC’s hit production of Dusty in 2016, reunite for Brigadoon. The cast also includes Nancye Hayes and Elise McCann.

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